Remember when I was 13? Of course you don’t, but that was when I was busy negotiating the pros and cons of tapered high-waisted jeans vis-a-vis straight ones. When I really just wanted to cut my hair short, and not have it long and in a ponytail like everyone else. When most other girls were beginning to help with stuff in the kitchen and the like, and all I wanted to do was cycle, play cricket and hang out at the local basketball club. Some of my friends even baked cakes and the whole concept was so alien to me (we didn’t own an oven until I was almost 18), I was flabbergasted. I mean, cakes at home? That was possible?
It was around the time that I was trying to figure out the totally inordinate emphasis being laid on this Indian school phenomenon called Extra Curriculars. I couldn’t understand why doing well at school without much effort was not enough, and that I had to select a frikkin’ elective to fill up the only two hours in the school week, that were free. Couldn’t I just go back to playing kabaddi and gossiping with the boys, instead? More importantly, why were things like cricket, long-jump, football and the like not up for grabs? Why did it have to be something as deeply pussy-centric as Home Science, and *cough* Aerobics?
That I didn’t want to be seen jumping around aimlessly on the field, with an embarrassment of an aerobics teacher calling numbers out loud, was a given. So I was a bit peeved to realise that my only other real option was Home Science. I remember our first session, a clear and positive debacle. When we had to learn the intricate art of making pongal. Seriously, what were they thinking? I remember staring down at the gloopy mess before me, when most others had managed to pull theirs off in varying degrees of accuracy — at least they had bowls full of something that vaguely resembled pongal — I had a solid mass that looked like it was fast on its way to turning into industrial strength adhesive. I remember deciding then and there, that all this home business, okay science, if we must call it that, was not for me. And I spent the next many years of my life staying as far away as possible from it.
Over ten years later, when I got married, I remember having a faint worry (that I never chose to talk about openly) about how I’d manage the domestic expectations that come with living in a joint family. I couldn’t even boil a pot of water straight, forget making rotis and dal. But I stuck to my guns. This domestic home business is not my scene. It never has been, it never will be, I confidently told myself.
Yesterday, the husband and I made pizza at home. From scratch. And as I was kneading the amorphous mess that was my pizza dough, lovingly and patiently, it suddenly struck me. 13 year old me would never have imagined that the disdain and contempt that she had so carefully nurtured over the years would ever be so easily replaced by such a deep affection for all things kitchen-related.
But that was then, and I blame it all on hormones. Stupid, unreasonable 13 year old hormones. That’s my story, and I’m sticking with it. Because today, I love and want every minute of every day to be spent in the kitchen. Of course this long-winded story was just the basis to tell you what I’ve cooked up last week.
I began last week in the with customary pre-Diwali panic mode, when I swiftly switched from being indifferent about it to suddenly wanting to do it all. The lights, the decor, the diyas, the phuljhadis and of course the something sweet too. So I made these kesar-badam biscuits, because I thought it had a nice desi feel, and gave me the chance to veer away form the barfis and kheers.
My love-affair with home-food continues, and I have been cooking two fresh meals a day, almost everyday. Bringing back memories from my mothers kitchen. And sometimes my grandmothers too, giving it a slight twist and making something new, like I did with this version of aloo methi.
Food-bloggerville has been bursting at the seams with the colours, flavours and activities of autumn — a season us Indians have no understanding of. Not to be left out, however, I baked an apple-cinnamon-rum galette — and open pie of sorts, and it has opened up an exciting, new avenue for many more experiments to come.
Of course, to balance all this meticulously planned cooking I have going, there is invariably the irrational, baseless, illogical craving to just bake something fun. So I made these eggless, butterless chocolate-coffee-peanut muffins!
Sometimes, I laugh at myself, when I think of how the tables have turned. If 13 year old me were to come back and see me now, she’d just be so ashamed. But then I think of how the very real concerns I had as that 13 year old could have just been put to rest if I had a chance to look into the future. Into this part of my life, to be precise. I would tell my 13 year old self that it will pay off, some day, so take a deep breath and just make that pongal as best as you can.